Tag Archives: Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito

Op-ed: Our children win with universal pre-K


| oped@queenscourier.com

COUNCILWOMAN JULISSA FERRERAS

After months of rallying for the future of our children, our voices have finally been heard! Last week, our state legislators approved $300 million in funding for universal pre-kindergarten programs in their final budget. This is historic. We are now poised to ensure every child has access to high-quality, full-day pre-K.

The City’s plan is moving forward, and in less than six months, a new school year will begin, giving tens of thousands of our children access to full-day pre-K and thousands more middle-schoolers access to a safe, educational place to go after school.

Imagine the difference this will make for kids who will now start learning a year earlier. Imagine what it means for working parents!

As a former director of a Beacon program at P.S. 19 in Corona, it was my privilege to watch the effect of high-quality programming on young people who would otherwise be falling behind. Just as early education, including pre-K, is vital to a child’s success later in life, after-school for young adolescents is a bridge that helps them maintain momentum—or, in the case of struggling students, a way to regain lost time and get back on track. Studies show that children who participate in these programs behave better in school, do better in class and on tests, and have improved attendance records.

With this new, dedicated funding from Albany, the people who win here are parents and children. New York City is ready to move forward. We’ve been moving aggressively to put all the pieces in place to be ready for the fall.

Thanks to the work of Mayor Bill de Blasio, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and my colleagues in our city and state government, we are making history. As a new mother, I cannot tell you how excited I am about this momentous change. These are game-changing solutions that will reach every child. They’re the kind of solutions that unite communities and improve our schools.

If you live in New York City and your child is turning 4 years old in 2014, it’s time to think about applying to pre-K. Here’s what you need to know:

• Children turning 4 years old in 2014 who live in New York City are eligible to attend pre-K programs.

• Pre-K is free. You do not have to pay to attend programs offered by the NYC Department of Education.

• Programs can be half-day (2 hours and 30 minutes) or full-day (6 hours and 20 minutes). Half-day programs may take place in the morning or afternoon.

• Programs are available at public schools and community-based organizations (CBOs). There are separate application processes for public schools and CBOs.

The pre-K application period has been extended to April 23. The online application for pre-K is currently available in English and Spanish on www.schools.nyc.gov. You can also apply in person at your nearest Queens Enrollment Office, which are listed on the website. If you have any questions or need further information, please call (718) 935-2009. Our children’s future begins today.

Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras represents the 21st Council District encompassing Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, Corona and Jackson Heights. She is also the Chair of the City Council’s Committee on Finance.

32 arrested during civil disobedience at LaGuardia Airport as workers call for better treatment


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Katelyn Di Salvo

BY KATELYN DI SALVO

Wendy Arellano, a single mother of two from Corona, holds three jobs to try to make it through the months. She makes $8 an hour working at LaGuardia Airport and has now stood up to make her voice heard.

Arellano, together with close to 1,000 other airport employees, local elected officials and community leaders gathered on Martin Luther King Day at LaGuardia Airport to demand better rights and benefits for airport workers and express the struggle of bringing “dignity, fairness and economic justice to the contracted employees.”

In December, workers presented the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, with petitions signed by more than 2,000 workers at LaGuardia, John F. Kennedy and Newark airports demanding Martin Luther King Day 2014 as a paid holiday. When they did not hear back from the Port Authority the workers and many people involved in the SEIU 32 BJ, a union representing most of the airport workers, they decided to organize Monday’s civil disobedience.

The rally opened with a prayer, and workers shared the stage to tell their stories and hardships.

“Personally I think it’s sad, I work three jobs to get through the months and even years, I don’t think what I make is enough for anyone to get by, and I hope this has gotten to the ears of the Port Authority,” Arellano said.

Juan Chapman who also works for LaGuardia Airport, shared his story as a security guard making $8 an hour and shouted many of his co-workers make less plus zero benefits.

“When people ask me how I live in New York on that salary I don’t have an answer, because there is no way someone can survive making $8 or less an hour,” he said.

Andrew Lloyd, a cabin cleaner at JFK International Airport shared his feelings of anger.

“I have a full time job, and I am on public assistance,” said Lloyd. “I find that to be ridiculous that I am working so hard, working overtime, and I still need public assistance, I have no health insurance, no sick days, no paid vacation days and I’m here to say I’m tired, we need respect.”

Many federal, state and local elected officials and clergy members also joined the rally standing side by side with workers.

“We have to make certain that there is a livable wage for people, no one should be one pay check away from homelessness,” said Congressmember Charles Rangel, who took the stage in support.

Rangel also said he is confident that Mayor Bill de Blasio, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and President Barack Obama will bring equality to these workers.

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito also announced her support of the fight for equality among workers.

“The thousands of New York area airport workers who have no health insurance, paid sick leave or the right to organize deserve better for their tireless work,” Mark-Viverito said. “Millions of New Yorkers pass through our airports every year and it’s the hard work and dedication of the workers who help make that possible. It’s time to take care of the workers who help New York City maintain its position as an international gateway.”

After the speeches, Hector Figueroa, President of SEIU 32 BJ, led the march to the 94th Street and Ditmars Boulevard bridge leading to LaGuardia Airport.

“We are here to honor Dr. King, and what better way to celebrate his legacy than doing the work of justice for workers that he carried on until he gave his life,” said Figueroa.

As workers marched through the streets they chanted “MLK is our day” as police surrounded them and warned them to clear the streets. Workers and members of SEIU 32 BJ sat down on the street in the middle of the bridge to make their statement clear.

Police then started arresting various people who would not clear the streets, ultimately arresting 32 people including local councilmembers Jimmy Van Bramer, Daneek Miller and Ruben Wills.

Those arrested were taken to the 115th Precinct, given summonses and released later in the day.

The workers and members of SEIU 32 BJ said they will not stop until “they get respect and equality.”

The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey did not respond to request for comment as of press time.

 

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